What to do while you’re waiting on hold

Oct 17, 2012 by

From Julien Smith’s blog,

If you’re anything like me, you probably hate waiting on hold.

Hell, if you’re really like me, you probably hate being on the phone altogether. This is particularly true when you’re dealing with customer service.

So I’ve made it into a game, and that helps.

Everybody knows that one of the best indicators of success is calm persistence. So I use any conversation with customer service employees in order to train myself in relaxed, firm determination.

(In my case, I really need to do this, because I am by nature profoundly impatient and intolerant of stupidity.)

Yesterday, for example, I was on the phone with Videotron switching accounts from my girlfriend’s name into mine.

The guy on the other end of the line, at this point, says that this particular task is $29. To switch a name, in a file, on a computer.

Twenty-nine dollars. I suspect this is a side effect of Canada’s quasi-monopolistic practices in the communications industry. But I digress.

At this point I simply decide that I will not budge.

My theory is that we get very few opportunities in life to practice getting what we want, firmly and calmly. So we should practice as often as we can in environments like these, when it doesn’t matter.

If you’re paying attention, you’ll also notice that there are quite a few other circumstances where you have one-off opportunities to talk to people with no consequences, of which customer service is but one. You can actually use each of them to practice something– small talk, negotiation, anything.

Here are some of my favourites from yesterday. I used them to get this quasi-criminal fee waived in 10 minutes.

“I would like you to waive the fee.” (“Sir, we cannot, it’s procedure.”)

“So you’re saying you’ve never waived the fee, ever?” (Here you’re just trying to get him to admit it can be waived. And of course he says yes.)

“Ok, since you’ve admitted it can be waived, I would like you to waive it for me.”

“I just want you to know that I’m willing to stay on the phone as long as it takes to get my way.”

“I do not want a callback, and I will not waver until you waive the fee.”

Remember to always be polite when you do this. In fact, compliment the guy on what a good job he’s doing, and tell him it’s nothing personal. He will give. Time is money. He has to.

Remember not to go through life letting people trample you. It can be easy to give up. You know this– but more importantly, they know this. Therefore all you need to do is practice persistence. Literally, call it practice.  It’ll work.

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